A milestone thousandth visit to Birmingham’s neighbourhoods was made by the city council’s Mobile Household Recycling Centre (MHRC) service. Launched in the summer of 2021, the service offers residents a simple and convenient way to dispose of waste and unwanted items – and an alternative option to the city’s bricks and mortar HRCs.
Each MHRC features two vehicles: a specially designed lorry with multiple compartments for recycling and an open-backed refuse collection vehicle for waste which cannot be recycled or reused. The schedule of visits across the city is based on data relating to matters such as fly-tipping.
During its operation, which sees four crews serve the 69 city wards, more than 2,000 tonnes of waste has been collected by the council’s hardworking teams – a weight equivalent to 13 adult-sized male blue whales*.
Despite only launching in July 2021, the service has already been shortlisted for a prestigious Local Government Chronicle Award, a finalist for the Awards for Excellence in Recycling and Waste Management, shortlisted in the Best New Idea category at the LARAC Celebration Awards 2022 and attracted interest from a range of other councils from across the country, who have sent representatives to Birmingham to find out more about how it works.
A direct comparison of 2020/21 with 2021/22 (on a July-July basis) shows an 11 per cent reduction in reports of fly-tipping in the city. For the last five weeks of available data (up to week ending 20 August 2022), weekly numbers are below those reported for the corresponding weeks in the last pre-pandemic year of 2019 – deemed significant because during the pandemic there were significant increases (up to c.1,000 reports a week at some points), as was the case nationally.
When the scheme started, the council was getting approximately 800 reports per week, now down to approximately 500-600. If the current performance becomes a consistent trend, it would represent a general reduction for fly-tipping reports in the region of 25 per cent from the point of the scheme starting.
Over the last year a range of unusual items have been presented by residents including a canoe, an accordion and an escape hatch from an Avro Shackleton aircraft. Items that have a further future use are sent to the Community Reuse facility that operates out of the Tyseley HRC site, which sells recovered items at bargain prices.
Councillor Majid Mahmood, Cabinet Member for Environment at Birmingham City Council, was on hand for the thousandth visit, which was made to Pineapple Road in Stirchley – ironically where the aircraft hatch was presented during an earlier visit to the same road.
Observing the operation, Cllr Mahmood said: “Everybody wants Birmingham to be as clean and green as possible, which is why we offer this service to people in all parts of the city.
“There is absolutely no reason to dump waste or utilise the services of rogue and unlicensed ‘man with a van’ type operations. We know not everyone can get to our regular HRCs or afford a bulky waste collection, so we wanted to provide an alternative that takes our services closer to the people.
“The feedback we have received over the last year has been really positive and we are keeping track of the data so we can ensure the service is going to the areas of greatest need more frequently, so we meet one of the top priorities for residents – cleaner streets.”